I would like to have an “adult-only” wedding but I know a few guests that won’t understand that the “and guest” on the invitation means “not your child.” How can I politely make it clear that I want a kid-free wedding and reception?

There is no faster way to open a can of worms than to attempt the “no children wedding.” A brief look at bridal and parenting forums show that many people have very strong opinions, and are happy to voice them, about kids and weddings. It is a damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t situation. On the one hand, your wedding reception is your first social event as a couple, and can be seen as a precursor to how you will entertain guests in the future. On the other, weddings are events theoretically meant to bring families together.
Kids are unpredictable. They cry at inopportune moments; they make messes with whatever they have at hand; they stick their fingers in places they aren’t supposed to (i.e. your cake, their noses during a photo, your nose during a photo…). But they can also be surprisingly well-behaved and can add precious memories to your big day.
Couples typically spend months perfecting the details of their weddings, and in this economy, even little costs can add up. Though having chicken fingers and an extra place setting for Cousin Ethel’s two precious babies may not seem like a big expenditure, it can raise costs, and the emotional cost of having to redo your seating arrangement again, dramatically.
If you choose to have an adult-only reception, be prepared not only for arguments but also for defiance. Just because you made out the invitation to “Aunt Sheila and Uncle Hermann,” doesn’t mean when you get their reply card back it won’t have “plus cousins Katherine and Vince” scribbled on the bottom. Before you make a comment you can’t take back, remember that all parents believe that their child is the exception to the rule.
With that said, there are ways to get the message across to your guests without posting a sign reminiscent of your tree house days: “No Children Allowed”:
Before you even send out your invitations, call friends and family who have children and let them know that a wedding invitation is on the way and that you have opted for an adults-only policy. This way you can give them plenty of time to prepare and find a babysitter, and you can also hear their worries in a personal way.
Pass the word along the grapevine. Make sure to ask your mother, sister and trusted friends to bring it up in conversation. Guests are less likely to fight with someone who isn’t in charge of making the decision. But make sure that you have approached your guests first, otherwise you might be seen to be hiding or they may think that they aren’t important enough to hear it from you, and their feeling could be hurt.
Carefully word your invitation with “Adult Reception” or “Adult Celebration” on a corner, or write, “We have reserved __ number of seats in your honor” on the reply card.
Make sure that you are consistent in your enforcement. You cannot allow Cousin Ethel’s two without also including Aunt Sheila’s – that’s a surefire way to instigate fights and feelings of resentment.
If all else fails, consider providing alternatives. These range from providing a trusted babysitter or two at the wedding venue, to setting up fun activities like crafts or to holding a pre-wedding party that includes children. One thing to keep in mind is that some children may feel separation anxiety and may not take to being away from their parents very well.
Remember, this is your day and it should be exactly how you have envisioned it, but you also want to continue your friendships and family warmth (yours and his) long after the last slice of cake is served.

What is the current trend for engagement announcements?

Engagement announcements are typically still mailed. Because weddings tend to bring a lot of age groups together, relying on e-mail or announcements of the sort can be problematic for older guests. However, you don’t have to be as formal as you used to. Many couples are using their engagement announcements to unleash their creativity. Not only can they take many forms – as a magnet, as a postcard with a picture or even in the shape of a diamond ring – one may be as traditional or inventive as one would like! They can also be combined with “Save the Date” cards if the period of time between the announcement and the wedding is 18 months or fewer.
Though the publishing industry isn’t as healthy as it used to be, the thrill of seeing the picture of you with your fiancé and the relevant information announcing your engagement to the world in print is something not to be missed. However, don’t just rely on print; perhaps create a “wedsite” – a Web site dedicated to your upcoming wedding. Forward the link (and include a scan of your printed announcement and the link to your announcement from the publication’s Web site) to both your in-town and out-of-town potential guests to cover all of your bases.

My finacé and I live together, own a house and have all of the things for the house. What do we do about registering for gifts? We really don’t need appliances or the usual household items.

This has become a common occurrence as more couples live together before marriage for any multitude of reasons. Registrations aren’t just for linens and china anymore. Need a new couch? Register for it. Want original artwork for your home? Create a gift list on – an “online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade” – where you can select anything including maracas, jewelry, accessories, clothing and yes, art. Can’t afford that upgrade for your honeymoon? There are Web sites that not only allow your guests to pay toward your honeymoon, your new father-in-law can send a bottle of your favorite champagne to your dinner table on the fourth night of your trip! If you think you’d feel strange receiving gifts on your honeymoon – or every time you would sit on your couch – make sure to register for gift cards at each of the stores you create a register in varying levels. Most stores offer this option (from Crate and Barrel to Home Depot) and that way, you can choose what you want – even a lawn mower! Take this opportunity to think outside the box and you’ll receive things you’ll actually use.

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